Laiq Ahmed Atif | The Malta Independent on Sunday | 29 August 2021
One of the basic principles of building a harmonious, caring and considerate society is to be kind and compassionate to those around us, within our close circles and within the wider circles of our communities.
Parents are the nucleus of a family. After God, they are the means and source of our being and existence. God is our Lord and Creator, and our parents are the reflection of the attributes of the Almighty God.
It is in the parental mirror that the divine attributes of Mercy, Compassion, Love and Providence are reflected and given practical expression on a micro human scale.
Therefore, it is incumbent upon us all to always treat our parents in the manner they should be treated; as the main pillar of the family unit on which the entire structure of family lies.
Guiding towards the kind treatment of parents, God says in the Holy Quran: “Show kindness to parents. If one of them attain old age with thee or both of them, never say unto them any word expressive of disgust nor rebuke them, nor be tough or harsh or coarse to them, but always address them with kind, gentle and excellent speech. And lower to them the wing of humility out of tenderness.” (17:24-25)
The word used for “excellent speech” in the Arabic language, is a very profound word which means to always speak with your parents in a highly esteemed, dignified, respectful and unique manner. It also means to always treat them with extreme honour, dignity and courtesy.
Furthermore, human beings are instructed that they are now in a position to return the love and kindness of their parents, therefore they must become generous and compassionate towards their parents. The Holy Quran has taught a very beautiful and heart-touching prayer for the parents: “My Lord, have mercy on them, and take care of them as they took care of me and nourished me in my childhood.”
This profound prayer uses a beautiful metaphor to teach us to always be kind to our parents. It further means that as human beings we can never fully repay the love and affection our parents gave us in our childhood and we should therefore pray for God the Almighty to shower His blessings and mercy upon them.
In addition, the words of the prayer imply that in old age, parents need to be looked after as carefully and affectionately as little children are looked after in their childhood; because due to age, they become sensitive and weak.
Unfortunately, parents are not given the respect and care they deserve in their old age; and in certain cases, they are abandoned, marginalised and are left to suffer in solitude. Occasionally, ‘Father’s Day’ and ‘Mother’s Day’ is celebrated and children therefore assume that they have done a lot for their parents, however, if we put ourselves in their situation and try to understand what they are going through, only then we will be able to extend them our true love and care.
We must understand that physical ailments are much easier to cure or alleviate, however, deep psychological traumas from which a considerable number of parents and elderly members of modern societies suffer from, are far more difficult to treat.
The famous proverb, “You reap what you sow” or “As you sow, so shall you reap” teaches us a lesson that we should treat our parents in the same manner as we would like ourselves to be treated in our old age.
Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, the Fourth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, while explaining the importance of taking care of the parents, writes:
“This reminds me of a story, which may make some people laugh yet move others to tears. Once, a child observed, with much pain and unease, the ill treatment of his grandfather at the hands of his father. He was gradually transferred from a well-provided and comfortable main bedroom to a smaller and less convenient space until eventually; he was moved to the servant’s quarters.
During an exceptionally harsh winter, the grandfather complained of his room being too cold and his quilt not being thick enough to make him feel warm and comfortable. The father started looking for an extra blanket from a stock of old, useless rags. Observing this, the child turned to his father and requested: ‘Please do not give all the rags to grandpa, keep some for me so that I may be able to give them to you when you grow old’.”
This innocent expression of a child’s displeasure demonstrates the agony of the elder generation in modern times.